Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
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 Event Transcript
August 19, 1999

‘Broken Windows’ Probation: The Next Step in Fighting Crime

HENRY OLSEN: Today the Manhattan Institute and the American Parole and Probation Association are proud to unveil our latest Civic Report, "Broken Windows Probation: The Next Step in Fighting Crime."

We made history here in New York a number of years ago when, under the leadership of Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bratton, we revolutionized crime fighting at the police level through the “Broken Windows Theory,” the institution of COMPSTAT, and a number of other administrative reforms. We are here today to announce that the fight does not stop with police. The fight against crime will be fought in other areas as well, one of the most promising of which is probation.

Our experts will talk about the issue of probation today and explain why it is the next important sector in the fight against crime. Now I would like to introduce the moderator for today's event, the co-author of the report and Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute, noted criminologist John DiIulio.

JOHN DiIULIO: Thank you, Henry. Good morning and thanks to all of you for coming. I must begin by saying that though I am a co-author of this report, much of the credit must go to the dozen or so leading probation officials from all across the country who really represent the heart and soul of this project.

The report being issued today is probably the single most significant report on crime policy that has been issued in the last six or seven years. Before introducing our distinguished feature speaker, let me briefly set the stage and summarize the report for you. Nationally, violent crime is down by about 26 percent since 1993. Many factors are at play, but clearly the criminal justice system itself had something to do with this. Probation is part of the equation, and we’ll address that later.

Prevention programs, however, have done a somewhat better job in recent years of reaching so-called “at-risk youth.”  We’ve seen improvements in “truth-in-sentencing” laws that have kept more violent offenders behind bars. Additionally, as everybody in New York knows, Broken Windows policing, going after the minor public disorders that often breed major street crimes, has probably been driving this positive trend.

Despite this dramatic drop in crime over the past five or six years, nationally and, most dramatically, in places like New York, despite over thirty years of public investment and anti-crime strategies at the federal, state and local levels, despite massive increases in spending on private security, and despite all the behavioral changes that Americans have made in response to crime, levels of crime today – murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, remain by every measure at least as prevalent as they were in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when crime first became a major public policy issue.

Americans are almost as dubious about the future efficacy of the criminal justice system as they are about the future solvency of the Social Security system. That is why crime remains a top public concern, despite these unbelievable drops. The American people may have a point in being concerned. Prevention programs are doing better, but they are notoriously hard to sustain and replicate. The prisons are bulging and becoming ever more expensive to operate. Broken Windows policing, which has produced the dramatic success story here in New York, has begun to spread to many other jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, through Police Commissioner John Timoney. The spread is steady but slow, and could be helped by moving in conjunction with other components of the justice system that are in line with the Broken Windows theory.

The report being released today by the Manhattan Institute and the American Probation and Parole Association on how to reinvent probation puts probation squarely in the center of this new fight against crime. The Reinventing Probation Council consists of more than a dozen of the nation's most accomplished, talented and public-spirited probation leaders. With the help of the Manhattan Institute, the council has taken the last couple of years, deliberated together, and put the finishing touches on a strategy for putting probation at the center of the fight against crime.

They have come not a moment too soon. Over 60 percent of all persons under correctional supervision in this country on any given day, over 3 million persons, are on probation. About 1.6 million probationers have been convicted of felony crimes. In some jurisdictions, such as Massachusetts, about half of persons on probation have been convicted of violent crimes. Probation has not done a very good job of promoting public safety, enforcing court orders, or even helping offenders.

Two thirds of probationers commit new crimes within 3 years of their sentence. Ex-probationers in state prisons in 1991 alone were responsible for over 6400 murders and countless other violent crimes, all while they were ostensibly under supervision in the community. Over 90 percent of probationers are under court orders to get drug treatment, to pay restitution or fines. About 50 percent of probationers, however, do not comply with these court orders.

Some 300,000 probationers are officially listed as 'absconders', which means, essentially, that they are out there, hiding in public view, flaunting the laws, and ignoring the system.

Even in terms of helping offenders, it's very difficult to make a strong case that probation has performed well. For example, 80 percent or so of probationers have some kind of substance abuse history or substance abuse problem, but fewer than 40 percent of probationers receive any kind of drug treatment during their sentence.

The politically correct terms for probation are 'community corrections' and 'intermediate sanctions'. The truth, however, is that probation has corrected little and sanctioned late, if at all. Starting today, however, all that will change. The report before you contains a blueprint, really, of how a Broken Windows approach to probation can cut crime, enforce orders, and improve the life prospects of offenders.

The report does say that probation is under-funded. It also claims that probation is woefully understaffed. One of the most remarkable aspects of this report, however, speaking as someone who for 3-1/2 years directed a public management research center in Washington, D.C., is the fact that these public servants have come together to say, "Our main problem isn't more money. We have met the enemy and he is us."

Leadership is critical. We need to reform our field from within, and this report contains a number of very concrete proposals and strategies for doing so. What remains to be gained? The report lists examples from Boston, Massachusetts to Williamston County, Texas, which strongly suggest that good things have happened in places where probation has partnered with police and people in the community, and has gotten squarely in the fight against crime. Crime has plummeted farther and faster in such places.

Our first speaker this morning knows all about crime plummeting far and fast. He is widely and rightly credited with making the organizational improvements in the New York City Police Department necessary to direct that department in leading this dramatic national trend toward crime reduction. William Bratton was the Police Commissioner of New York for the last several years. He has also served as a private security analyst. On a personal note, I want to say that it is always a pleasure to work with Commissioner Bratton because he brings not only a practitioner's perspective, but the viewpoint of somebody who is genuinely committed to the public's desire to see crime continue to go down. Without further ado, let me give you Commissioner Bratton.

WILLIAM BRATTON: Thank you, John. Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here among so many friends, and to speak on this very important issue. I'm here today to offer my support and encouragement for this effort.

While a lot of good things are happening in the probation arena, it has still not developed into the type of progress that we have seen in the area of policing over the last several years, where the ideas that work are in fact utilized in a broadly based fashion. I'm here to offer my support for this particular effort, because I see so many similarities to what we have accomplished in American policing. I see in probation many of the same problems that we had in policing, problems that were corrected with the results that you have seen: a 27 percent decline in crime in the United States over the last 5 or 6 years.

The good news is that it is now no longer doubted that crime is going down and is going to continue to go down. In New York City it's down well over 50 percent. In the subways it's down over 80-90 percent from what it was in 1990. My remarks this morning are going to focus on the New York Transit experience, to support some of the concepts that you are going to hear about this morning. John referenced the New York City experience and my reputation in that arena, but the beginning of it all was really in the New York City subway system in 1990.

Those in attendance today will recall what that system was like, because most of you used that system every day. In 1990, on any given day, there would be about 80 crimes in the system, about 225,000 incidents of fare evasion, and phenomenal numbers of acts of disorder. The fare evasion and disorder were not being addressed in any way, shape or form by the police or by the Transit Authority. On occasion they would perform much-publicized sweeps to deal with fare evasion. Two or three times a year they would arrest a thousand people and bring them up to Yankee Stadium. The Mayor and the Transit Authority would then discuss this accomplishment and their major crackdown, but every day other than those two or three days each year, nothing else was done.

Why? Because the system was not geared to deal with that particular problem, even though it was that particular problem that was causing so many other problems in the Transit Authority's subways. The police did not treat a $1.15 theft of service seriously because the criminal justice system could not deal effectively with an officer making an arrest for that offense. It would take the City anywhere from 24-48 hours to process that arrest, put the officer off patrol, for the 8-hour tour of duty, and then going on overtime for 16 or 24 hours. So that $1.15 theft of service would end up costing The City of New York hundreds of dollars, and deplete the system of its uniformed officers.

We understood that you just shouldn’t just fix a broken window once a year, and when it's broken again the very next day just leave it alone until next year. The effort must be every day, day after day, and it needs to be well coordinated. In dealing with the fare evasion problem in New York City, we began to make large numbers of arrests, initially, every day, day in and day out. We worked closely with the courts, district attorneys, and corrections officials who had devised a system to deal with that problem.

The effect over time speaks for itself. We utilized the police to control behavior so consistently that over time we changed that behavior, and changed it for good. Today in the New York City subway system, where there are a million more riders each day than there were in 1990, 4 1/2 million riders every day now instead of 3 1/2 million, incidents of fare evasion are down to about 20,000 a day.

That translates into a lot less disorder and a lot more revenue for the Transit Authority. They're celebrating the $50 million surplus. If you extrapolate the 200,000 people who are paying their fare every day, you will find the source of the surplus. You might hear talk about other things going on in the transit system, but most of the surplus that they are experiencing has come about by an initiative that was formed nine years ago.

We're going to hear today some success stories that need to be replicated and expanded upon, but the real importance of what you are going to hear is that, as crime has gone down, as police have gotten more effective, as district attorneys have gotten more effective, and as we've built more jails, there is a very significant link in the criminal justice system chain that needs more focus. That area is probation. The beauty of this link is that the resources it requires are nowhere near as expensive as more police, nowhere near as expensive as more jails. It is a truly cost-effective way of addressing an issue that can return extraordinary results, like those of the fare evasion initiative.

Just think of the figures that John related: the number of people out there on probation who commit other crimes. If we can control their behavior, as we control the behavior of many of the individuals in this city and around the country by use of police, through the use of probation officers and the community, just think of the amount of crime that can be prevented.

This is the next frontier for America's criminal justice effort, and it is a frontier that I think will bear as much fruit as the policing initiatives of the 1990s and the focus on Broken Windows. It is for that reason that I'm here: to strongly encourage that these initiatives be looked at, replicated, expanded upon, and that they be understood for what they are: a very significant component of America's criminal justice system and its effort to continue reducing crime and disorder. Thank you.

Mr. DiIULIO: Thank you very much, Commissioner. Our next speaker is Mario Paparozzi. Mr. Paparozzi is a Professor at the College of New Jersey.

I recall back in the early 1990s when I was asked by then-Governor Florio of New Jersey, to chair a task force on corrections, the one name that kept popping up was Mario Paparozzi. "You have to talk to Mario Paparozzi. You have to find Mario Paparozzi." He is the present President of the American Probation and Parole Association, which is the nation's top, most comprehensive professional association of probation leaders and officers. He has been involved in major efforts at reform in New Jersey, and he has been a source of tremendous common sense within not only the New Jersey probation field, but also nationally. Professor Paparozzi will talk about the Report, its genesis and its recommendations.

MARIO PAPAROZZI: Thank you very much John, Commissioner Bratton, and thanks to the National Association of Probation Executives and the Manhattan Institute for joining together with the American Probation and Parole Association to have a conversation that I've waited 26-1/2 years to have.

It has been worth hanging around for. This is really exciting. The stars are lined up. People are ready to hear this. We've noticed over the last several years in our profession that there is a malaise about probation in the public, and we are honest enough to admit, that the malaise extends into own homes.

Many of the causes of discontent among probation professionals is not of their own doing. The solution, however, must come form them. Much of our relevance will turn on our ability to take the first step as a probation entity to give the public what it's looking for: we must become publicly relevant, a term that came up in our discussions over and again.

I have been speaking across the country for many years, to the tune of about 46 states, and I think I have a pretty good perspective. The other day I was speaking to a room of folks about this large, a probation audience, and had the same kind of discussion. We asked, "What is our primary objective? Are we meant to sit in an office to do home contacts? Or to do office contacts once every other month?” Can you imagine what a reporting day in a probation office looks like when you have a 7 or 8-hour day, and you have 25 to 40 people coming in? This is the current state of probation.

I go to some jurisdictions where there are 500 probationers assigned to one officer, and some other jurisdictions where there are only 16 offenders assigned to one probation officer. And we call that probation. Is there any wonder why the public is confused about what it is that they're buying?

Most frightening, however, is when I speak to probation folks and ask them: "How do we get to the point of relevancy?" They look at me and say, "I don't know. My judge doesn't understand. My legislator doesn't understand. My superiors don't understand." In response I say: "Well, how about the community? Would they understand?" They say: "We don't know. We don't talk to the community."

This is another significant day for us because you represent the community. We speak to the community through you. I want to talk to you. I don't want to do anything that I haven't convinced my neighbor is a good idea. If it can pass that litmus test, maybe we ought to be doing it. The community, after all, is the customer.

When it comes to talking about "How do we get to the end?" I weigh in a little heavier, because I worked for 26 years in the business. It is the public, however, which must decide what ends we are to work for. In my view, folks are looking for public safety for today and tomorrow. They want prevention and some restoration on the individual level, and the community level. The public also wants commenserate punishment. None of these desires exclude any of the others. We can embrace these broad outcomes.

That happens to be our niche. This can't be done in a structure that allows probation officers to sit in offices and never get out on the road. Some officers do currently get out on the road, but overwhelmingly what I’ve seen is officers spending all of their time in the office. Somebody recently said to me about field supervision: "What's the difference between annual reporting or sending a letter in once a year, and regular supervision?" I said: "About five minutes a month." Multiplied times twelve, that's about an hour a year.

It is difficult for folks to see the deleterious effect of probation not working properly. It's not difficult to see the deleterious effect of prison overcrowding, for example, or a police department that's not working properly. We in the field have an obligation to clearly articulate the relationship between what we do every day and what it is that folks are looking for as an outcome: the public safety for today and tomorrow.

We shouldn't ask ourselves: "Do you think we should fingerprint everybody on probation?" That's an easy one. I can only imagine what any one of my neighbors would say: "Do it!"

People on probation are generally involuntary clients with a track record for doing bad things. Many of them can be turned around. Many future probationers can be stopped dead in their tracks, but we have to be out there as catalysts for change, to not only rebuild offenders in isolation. We're calling for a major paradigm shift in probation. We're calling for folks in probation to recognize they have a broadminded civic agenda that goes well beyond the particular probationer. We're asking folks to get out into the community, so that when we go onto a street, they know who the probation officer is.

It's not uncommon for me to speak to a room of probation officers who tell me that not only do they not know their community, they no longer know the names of the drug programs that offer services in their community, because they haven't been out there in so long. I'm calling upon my probation colleagues to recognize that this is not going to be an easy road to hoe. We have a real credibility crisis.

We're also calling upon our colleagues to recognize that this is no longer going to be a 9-5 endeavor, Monday through Friday. It can't be, when you're working in the community, for the community, and the probationer is part of that community. It's not a 9-5 job anymore.

This raises safety issues for officers. That must be addressed. It's not okay for a probation department to administratively decide it's too dangerous for someone to go work in a community, so therefore don't go. I learned a startling fact when I spoke in Milwaukee several years ago. I sat down for lunch after my speech, and ended up sitting right next to the probation officer for Jeffrey Dahmer. I said to him: "How is it that you didn't know? I used to work in Newark, for example, and did home visits all the time, in high-rise housing projects. I think I would have known if somebody was killing people to beat the band. How didn't you know? People smelled it eventually. How did you not smell it?" "We didn't go," is what I was told. "We didn't go, because he lives in an area that's too dangerous, you see."

That won’t really fly well with my neighbor.

Finally, I'd like to comment on this business of controlling behavior. I'm a firm believer that we can control behavior, and moreover, if we do the right things, change behavior. As a discipline, probation has to acknowledge this.

If I speak to my colleagues across the country, consensus dissipates when they're asked: "Do you think we can be held accountable for controlling folks' behavior?" They raise their hands and say: “Have you lost your marbles? You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink." My answer to that is: "Well, I need to run down to the nearest statehouse or funding authority and tell them that we're not willing to be held accountable, because they think we are, and we’ll see if they want to buy that kind of a program. If they do, God bless them. I don't know that I would vote for that, however."

The inference that probation has made is that we can provide safety in the community in a holistic way. That happens to be our historical origin: that we can provide safety in the community through prevention, through short-term control, longer-term behavioral reform, and we can do it fairly inexpensively, by enlisting the community. We can never have enough people to watch offenders if we rely on probation officers. I call that concept 'cop-a-con'. You can't have a cop for every con. But if you have a healthy community who helps you watch the con, then the probation officer's job is doable. Then our activities are sustainable.

I'm not out here to simply convince the public of our relevance. I'm out here to convince our field of our relevance, and I'm out here to tell you today what I've been telling folks for the last several years: I want the media at the table.

Lastly, I'd like to tell you that I asked a room of agents about this large: "What do you think you ought to do?" They said: "I don't know." I said: "Well, how about if you go out and talk to the community in a very constructive, innocuous way. You can't get in trouble for that." They said to me, sadly: "What should I tell them, Mario, the truth?"

Well, if you don't tell them the truth, what are you going to tell them? Lies? You ever wonder why you folks in this room don't get to see too many folks like me? We can't get to anybody. We keep getting shot down to a public information officer somewhere who doesn't know about our business. If our neighbor likes what we're doing, we should like to talk to him. With that I'll leave you, and turn it over to John to introduce the next speaker. Thank you.

Mr. DiIULIO: In 1990, Boston, Massachusetts had 153 homicides. As of mid-August this year, Boston had 17 homicides. You're about to meet one of the major reasons for that change.

Dr. Ronald P. Corbett, Jr., directed this process. He is a past President of the National Association of Probation Executives. He is the Deputy Commissioner of Probation in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also probably the single person in probation in the country that has had a good deal of contact with the media because of the dramatic success in Boston. Some say that “Operation Nightlight,” which Dr. Corbett has organized, consists of two probation officers, a few cops and a camera. That's what it's become.

What was amazing as we went through this process, as I witnessed it, as this group came together, was Dr. Corbett’s continued focus on how to replicate Boston’s success. How do we spread this? How do we make this happen in other places? How do we effect the same kinds of community-based partnerships, partnerships with police and other jurisdictions? It is rare to find public servants anywhere with that kind of commitment, because what he has done he has done largely because he simply cares about it. So, without further ado, let me give you Dr. Ronald Corbett.

RONALD CORBETT, JR.: Thank you, John. Good morning, everyone.

I would like to start out by making some quick points. First, about why we did this: If it isn't clear already, I think I can say that it's painfully clear to those of us in probation, that the public perception of who we are and what we do is not anything like what we would want it to be. We are seen as the slap on the wrist; we are seen as the emblem of the 'soft on crime movement', and that's clear both in our conversations with members of the community and our review of all the public opinion polling that's been done throughout this decade.

My father has been a practicing attorney for almost fifty years, and he did a fair amount of criminal work early in his career. I remember visiting his office, which is not too far from where we lived, and on numerous occasions hearing him say to clients that were sitting in his office: "Don't worry, I think I can get you probation.”

That's the problem. When probation appears to offenders and defense attorneys and others as almost as good as a 'not guilty,’ something is wrong. The practice of probation, the perception of probation is something that enrages victims and the communities they come from alike, and this will not stand.

We are not going to permit this perception, this lack of credibility, this lack of trust and support, especially when there are over three million offenders in your communities at stake. We will not allow it to continue. We've learned in the last few years that there are good models out there, and there are success stories that we can build on. Boston is only one of them. There are many others that we can learn from that have earned the respect of their community, and have contributed significantly to the reduction of crime.

Let me mention three core elements of what we are proposing. The concepts are surprisingly simple. First, we want to make the requirements of people who are placed on probation stricter. The majority of those on probation have serious substance abuse problems, and yet they are not regularly tested. The notion that they can complete their probation without being required to get clean and sober as part of their probation cannot continue.

We must test to see that they are cleaning up, and act when they are not. Additionally, everybody on probation must be required to pay back either their victim or, if there is not a specific victim, their community. That should be taken seriously, and when it isn't, that should be taken seriously. Stricter requirements on and stricter supervision of everybody who is placed on probation must be enforced.

A lot of the models that have emerged over the last few years have emphasized, as Mario indicated, getting people out from behind their desk and into the community where they belong. Officers cannot supervise people from a building. It's the equivalent of, as we said in our group, fighting fires from a station house. It can't be done. Probation officers belong in communities. They belong in places where they are not expected to be, particularly by offenders, and they should be there at times when offenders don't expect them to be there. It should be a “24/7” type of job. It hasn't been.

It cannot be treated as a white collar job. It can't be 9-5. Crime doesn't work that way. Offenders don't behave that way. We don't have the slightest chance of controlling and deterring offenders unless they believe that we are going to show up all over the place, all the time, unexpectedly, checking on their behavior, checking on their compliance with those strict requirements. Strict requirements go hand in hand with strict supervision.

Finally we come to strict enforcement. The research we have is not encouraging, in terms of the degree of compliance with the conditions that the courts order. It is not encouraging in terms of the sanctions that are imposed when compliance is not forthcoming. That has to end.

We have confidence that the great majority of the people we supervise, while they may be making very bad choices, are not stupid. They can figure out what is in their own best interest. Once it becomes clear to them that it is, "either comply with probation in all of its particulars or you will be found out, and if you are found out you will go to jail,” then we will get the compliance that is, after all, what we are really looking for. We take no particular pride in sending probationers to prison, but we will do it because it is necessary.

We take a lot more pride in bringing offenders to the point where they realize it's in their own best interest to do what we require them to do, to get clean and sober, back to school, back to work, to repay their victims, and become contributing members of the community. That's our real success. But we know, in order to achieve that, we have to draw our line in the sand, say: "this far, and no further."

Where is the evidence that this might work? There are a number of places. We mention a number of them in the report, and in the longer version we will mention many more. I can just tell you from my own early experience in Boston, during the time when Commissioner Bratton was there and continuing during the tenure of Commissioner Paul Evans, that far too many kids were dying. Too many of our officers were going to funerals and they got tired of it. They said: "The way we are doing business does not work. We have to change."

We broke down the firewall that traditionally existed between probation and police. My teenagers would not ever understand, and yours wouldn't either: How is it that police departments do not routinely share intelligence and information on offenders in the community, with each other? How is it that they do not cooperate and collaborate? They are in the same neighborhoods, responsible for quality of life, for domestic tranquility, and for helping to promote the quiet enjoyment of these neighborhoods. How can it be that they do not routinely share information with each other and collaborate every day?

Unfortunately, it simply wasn't the case. In desperation, we went to it. We began to work together, and share information on what was going on in the street, on offenders we were concerned about, and we began to leverage the considerable authority that probation officers have even when a crime hasn't occurred, to impose conditions like curfews and area restrictions on offenders, and when they are violated, take action. The police are not able to do that, but we are. People who are on probation stand in a great deal more jeopardy than people who are not, and we should leverage that authority in the interest of safer streets.

We worked with the police, and we reached out to other groups. We began to work with prosecutors in ways we hadn't before, and we began to work with clergy. We began to work with the community, and said to them: "We want the killing to stop. These are your children that are dying. We want the killing to stop."

It did stop. It stopped for a lot of reasons, but the theme, above all, was partnerships amongst people who had not traditionally worked together, in the interest of safer streets. A big part of that, no doubt, was the partnership between probation and the police department. Commissioner Bratton is quite right. In many ways, we are riding the coattails of law enforcement. They have been amazingly innovative, for much longer than we have, and they have led the way in terms of showing how an element of a criminal justice system can work with the community.

In many ways we are replicating what they did, in our unique situation. The largest part of the story, no doubt about it, is for the probation officers, who have some leverage over offenders, to get together, share information, act as a united front, and show for the first time, to offenders and would-be offenders, that we are working together: you can run, but you can't hide.

They never understood why we weren't talking and working together. It didn't make sense to them. But now we are. So in a way, they're surrounded, surrounded by community members who know that there is a system that will respond if they are not doing the right thing, that if the police officer sees them, that information is going to be shared with a probation officer, and vice versa. The bottom line is that the killing stopped.

That story has repeated in many other jurisdictions: in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the State of Maryland in their hot spots. There are many examples that show that when the criminal justice system begins to act in a systemic fashion, coordinating its efforts, it will multiply its leverage, which will result in significant reductions in serious crime.

We will know we will have arrived when average, fair-minded citizens can look at probation and say: "We can support that. It's real punishment and it's real correction." Thank you.

After the conclusion of the prepared remarks, the Panel took questions from the audience.

QUESTION: What community-based organizations do you customarily work with? Is there an official paradigm community organization that police and probation work with? Secondly, what, if anything, is being done in New York?

Mr. DiIULIO: I will answer briefly and then recognize the Commissioner in New York, who is here today, Raul Russi.

By community-based organizations I assume you mean outside of the criminal justice system. Clergy groups is one not so obvious example, but one that has worked very well in a number of places, including Boston. Certainly the “whole treatment” community, the network of private non-profits that offer a variety of educational, occupational and drug treatment services, are very important. The range is almost infinite: neighborhood watch groups, civic leaders, and political leaders. Anybody who has a stake in the quality of life in the community is a potential, or should be a potential, partner to probation.

The most common ones, though, to answer your question directly, would be: first, other elements of criminal justice; then the whole network of what we would call 'rehabilitative services' that offenders can be referred to. The third is civic and other neighborhood-based groups who are just looking to improve life in their community. That should be examples of the range of partnerships that exist, and in terms of New York, Commissioner Russi may want to say a word.

RAUL RUSSI: First of all, this is also, for me, a long time in waiting, as far as some of the goals and directions that we have for this business

I started out as a police officer in Buffalo many years ago, and the third person in my patrol car was just about always a parole officer who would ride along with my partner and I, and we worked as a team. That was my first experience in knowing what community corrections, parole and probation, was all about.

My second experience was when I was a Chairman of the Parole Board, and I met an officer who was then the Chief of the Transit Police, Jack Maple, who said to me: "You know, we need to form a partnership between yourself and us." He talked me into turning over my first floor parole office on 40th Street to his robbery unit. We moved the police, his whole robbery unit, into the floor with the parole officers. For the first time, the parole officers and the police officers were in the same building, working together. So that was my second experience.

My third experience in this business has been sending a couple of my executive team members to Boston to take a look at the Boston project. Out of that was born what is today in our area called 'Nightwatch', a little bit of a copy from the Boston project, where we team up regularly with police officers in supervising some of the high profile probationers in New York City. That's been going on for two years and has tremendous success. New York City, as you will hear, probably in the next few days, is poised to take this whole situation to the very next step, and all I’ve got to say at this point is just "wait and see". Thank you.

QUESTION: Our prisons don't punish or reform criminals. We don't offer really intensive drug treatment or other rehabilitative programs in our prisons. Instead, they seem to warehouse criminals. Don't you think, in addition to probation reform, there needs to be meaningful prison reform, so that we just don't postpone things?

Mr. PAPAROZZI:, I absolutely agree. I think while folks are in prison, a couple of things need to occur, but I think we need to think sequentially. We can do punishment. We need to do punishment. I want to do punishment. When that punishment piece is done, however, we need to think very seriously about how we want the inmate to get out of the front door of the prison. Do we want it to swing open mindlessly, or do we want to have some orderly transition with the deck stacked in society's favor, rather than against it. I absolutely agree with you that there needs to be a broadminded perspective as to what we want to accomplish behind those bars.

QUESTION: I think that part of reforming probation is reforming who gets probation. Everybody would agree that what you said makes eminent sense with regard to a non-violent criminal, even a non-violent felon: an embezzler, someone who commits theft of service. However, I think that people's main issue with probation is that a person with a measured propensity for violence is being inserted in their community, and I'm not sure people will be assuaged by statements like: “While we're inserting somebody in your community, next door to you, who is a violent person, who has committed acts of violence, we promise we'll keep a tight watch on him.” I think that is a very tall order, and I think that giving people actual jail time in a rehabilitative jail makes eminent sense with regard to rehabilitating that person. This makes the life of a probationer much more easy and it also gives him an attainable task.

Dr. CORBETT: We don’t contest that there criminals being put onto probation that your average citizen would say doesn’t belong there. That issue deserves its own attention: who are the best candidates, and where are real abuses occurring, in terms of the nature of offenders that get placed on probation. However, I will say this. The reality is that the vagaries of systems that rely predominantly on plea bargaining and that sort of approach to handling cases means that whether we like it or not, we are going to end up with people who are not, in your sense, ideal candidates. It seems to me that if that is necessary, the least we can to at that point is say: "Okay, we have a system that is equal to that task."

Mr. PAPAROZZI: Probation often includes a period of jail time, in split sentences and so forth. The other reality is that even when they get their jail time, which I'm a proponent of by the way, they are going to come out on the streets, and we need to supervise them eventually on the street. They are not going to stay in jail forever. We need to have a very tight system. So I agree with you, and I agree with Dr. Corbett’s comments.

Mr. RUSSI: Inserting the individual into the community, I think, is the wrong analogy. They come from those communities. They are going back to those communities. When somebody goes to prison or is on probation, they didn't come from Mars, they come specifically from the community they are going back to. We have to be there, as part of that community, to change the behavior, to help the community deal with that individual. Our mission should be more than supervision. It also should prepare the community to deal with that kind of activity in the whole community. It goes far beyond just supervision. We have to create the partnerships with the community.

QUESTION: The report states that rehabilitation of offenders comes in three parts: avoiding drugs, learning to read, and obtaining jobs. You mentioned earlier that paying back is encouraged also. What amount of money, or what percentage of what amount of time is devoted to helping with literacy? How are people helped to get jobs to do this payback?

Dr. CORBETT: I think that we all believe that any system that we would want to be part of, and that we can promote, has to be balanced. It has to be balanced, not in some sense of capitulating to the rehabilitation ethic, or feeling soft on crime, but because it is smart corrections to spend some of the time, when you are supervising people in a community, in insuring that they are better positioned to live a law-abiding life when they get off probation than they were when they started. That's just good, hard-nosed common sense corrections.

In addition to putting, if you will, a net over somebody, or surrounding them in terms of monitoring their behavior, in ensuring, as you mentioned, that they either pay back a specific victim, if there was one, or if not, pay back the community, in the form of community service, in addition to that, I think we have an obligation, a moral and a practical obligation to ensure that people are better off in terms of their future of law-abiding behavior. This mean helping them gain literacy, a high school diploma or education beyond that, becoming clean and sober, and just standing in a stronger, better place. That is good, common sense: prudent corrections.

The commitment to do that has to be as strong as the commitment to hold them accountable. The mistake we have made traditionally in corrections is that we think this is a choice between enforcement and correction. It isn't. It can be both. This silly debate about “Are we cops or counselors?” helps no one. How many times have we heard that question?  Right away when we hear it, we know that the person who is asking that fundamentally doesn't understand the business. It is elements of both, because both are necessary to get people on a law-abiding path.

QUESTION: Based on your experience where these things are being tried, what are realistic expectations? How far can you drive down the numbers of probationers who are violating terms of probation?

Mr. PAPAROZZI: I’ll hazard a guess. If you do this right, I'd bet we could drive those violators down by 10-30 percent fairly easily. Failure rates are pretty high. I'm hearing numbers like 60 percent over a two or three-year follow-up. I don't think it would be that hard to get those down, certainly, 10 percent. Let me add that even a 5 percent improvement would be a major public benefit. If we think of other professions, medical comes to mind, even a small improvement in a procedure is cause for Mardi Gras. Why wouldn't we want to do the same? This is a public health issue. We need to be thinking about that. I think, easily, 10-30 percent.

Dr. CORBETT: What's instructive on that point is the example of New York City, Boston and so many other cities. Commissioner Bratton will know, and maybe he could say. Serious crime is down by what measure, Commissioner over the last decade--

Mr. BRATTON: 55-60 percent.

Dr. CORBETT: Who would have thought that possible when it all started? Decreases of these sorts of magnitudes are no longer unthinkable. We are learning how to work smarter. We are learning how to make differences of that kind of proportion. Homicide rates in Boston, as you heard, have gone from, in the 150 range, down to the low 30s, projected for this year. That's in the order of 75 percent reduction.

Mr. BRATTON: I agree with that 10-30 percent figure. Mr. Paparozzi has more expertise in terms of the population he's dealing with. I would think that would be potentially conservative.

Mr. RUSSI: Two additional things: we know a lot about our population already. We know that the majority of the real planning is done in the probationer's home or place of supervision. We know where to focus. We also know from the experience of the police and criminal justice experts that a small number of people commit a large number of crimes in particular neighborhoods. Those are the parole individuals. If we can focus on that population and those neighborhoods, we have the tremendous potential to continue to reduce crime in our communities.

QUESTION: I know that the issue isn't money. But treatment does cost money. Education does cost money. Won't there at least be a requirement of a reallocation of funds? This is going to cost something.

Dr. CORBETT: We have talked about this a lot. I think, believe it or not, we believe this is not a "show us the money" deal. This is not why we are here. We are talking to many constituencies, including a public one, but the group we're talking to, more than any other group, are our own colleagues. What we're saying to them is: "Change, or perish." That's our major message.

Mr. PAPAROZZI: So much of this, we feel, is the will to do it, the will to take the first step. We're in a logjam right now. Folks are saying: "Show us your relevance and maybe we'll consider some resource allocation." The fact of the matter is that there is much that we can do right now with the will to do it.

QUESTION: Governor Pataki has talked about eliminating parole. Is that indicative of how serious a crisis that you all are in?

Mr. PAPAROZZI: I personally think it is. I think it is a relevancy crisis, up and down the line. The issues pertaining to supervision that we spoke to today apply directly to the supervision issues of a parole system.

Mr. DiIULIO: I just want to quickly add in response to your question about the money, what this would cost in dollars and cents. The traditional way probation reform has been talked about is: "We can work wonders and miracles if you just give us all the money you're spending on prisons, and put in rehabilitation.”

That is not what this report is saying. You have to look seriously within the justice system. For every dollar we're spending on prisons we are spending a dime or less than a dime on probation. $200 per probationer? You get what you pay for.

What we have here is the leader of a profession saying: "We'll meet you halfway. We're talking about changing our profession, getting serious about enforcing, going down the path, riding the coattails of Broken Windows policing, to Broken Windows probation. If we do that, hold ourselves accountable, and re-engineer and reinvent our profession, then we would hope that the issue, the debate about how much funding, whether it is reallocated from within justice budgets or whatnot, be taken seriously.” I think that is quite fair.

QUESTION: I find involving the community to be a step with great potential because as one who has attends many civic and community meetings, I have yet to attend one where the topic was probation. We can have beacon schools, we have latchkey programs, we address every conceivable need. I can't think of any that have specifically focused on involving the community or supporting programs to rehabilitate or support probationers. I would like to hear your thoughts as to how the government can fund community-based organizations, specifically targeted at this process.

Dr. CORBETT: Sitting behind you is a gentleman, Gerald Hinzman, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who is a member of our group, and probably the best at building community partnerships along the lines you just mentioned. Gerald, I wonder if you'd mention a word about what you're doing in Cedar Rapids.

GERALD HINZMAN: I don't believe that we can build the partnerships. Law enforcement learned this lesson. I am a former police chief also, and have been down that route once before. If you are going to talk about community policing, if you are going to talk about community corrections, you have to put the community back into it.

We do build strong coalitions, and we build them from grass roots up, to deliver services in our community. I think one of the important aspects of what we are reinventing here today is the notion that, while we want to get tough, and while we want to provide punishment, we need to instill in people's mind that treatment, in and of itself, is an effective punishment. People that are in our programs oftentimes would rather go to prison than have to have the combination of both punishment and treatment in our community.

We talk about treatment for public safety, and if you don't have treatment and supervision coexisting in the same dynamic, you will not have successful outcomes. One cannot do it alone. Just to supervise people intently will not bring home the type of results that you want. If you want the proper outcomes, you have to combine treatment and supervision effectively, and we believe that when the community is concerned, that we have to be able to introduce people into pro-social environments where they can be successful again. If we treat people and throw them back into the same anti-social environment they came out of, we will not have the outcomes that we want.

QUESTION: What has been the failure rate for sex offenders in Cedar Rapids, and what are some of your treatment techniques?

Mr. HINZMAN: Well, there are a couple of paragraphs at the end of your Report that will speak to some of that. I have talked about the combination of treatment and supervision being effective. Over the last couple of years, we have had less than a 5 percent failure rate in our sex offender population that we're supervising, because we have strong treatment programs. We use the polygraph and a series of treatment options, so we really are monitoring people closely in the community.

QUESTION: What did you have before? I'm just trying to see a change, as a result of what you've done.

Mr. HINZMAN: The 'before' aspect I can't tell you on the sex offenders, because we were having significant more failures. That's why we changed the program. It wasn't measured, so honestly I can't tell you 'before'. It was not good. The one area that I can speak a little more to is that we have moved into the neighborhood, and have begun place-based supervision, where are agents are working with law enforcement in a geographical area. In Cedar Rapids, in one neighborhood association, we had 93 crack houses identified and targeted in 1998, and for that same period in 1999 we had 23. There is a success story for you.  When it's grass roots up, the neighborhood has to be involved.

Mr. DiIULIO: Just to reinforce that point, as I said earlier, the plural of anecdote is not data. This movement is very much at the take-off stage. We do have several dozen examples you can look at time 't' and look at what happened after these police probation partnerships.

Williamson County, Texas, in some ways, is my favorite example. They had a “mini crime wave” there. Probationers weren't being supervised: the normal fortress probation situation. Then, I believe, in the first year, they ended up enforcing to the point where they got $15,000 in unpaid fines in restitution, that little county, and arrested 300-400 people, probation violators. The second year they got over 600 arrests, collected 50,000 bucks, and this was done with two people, leaving the office and getting on the street.

Even after all this, however, I am exactly the source to tell you that more research is needed.

Dr. CORBETT: The question about specifics is important. Let me mention just two, if I may, that are well known and well documented, that follow exactly the model that we're talking about. I think I alluded to them in my remarks. Minneapolis, for example, took upon itself to develop exactly the sort of partnerships we are talking about. You could ask them what the violent crime, and particularly the homicide rates are, in the targeted areas. The same thing goes for the Maryland hot spots. Significant reductions in serious crime were documented when these partnerships, particularly led by police probation partnerships, targeted certain areas. So the early results, hard-nosed data, the kind of thing you're talking about, are very encouraging. It's not hypothetical. That is in addition to the Boston example. As much evidence as we have, though, we still have a lot more to do.

QUESTION: I'm still a little bit confused about how we measure success? Do we measure success in terms of probation failure rates or just simple overall reduction in crime? Are we taking these people and putting them back in prison, or are they being rehabilitated?

Dr. CORBETT: There are several ways to measure success. If we are truly community-driven, I think we ought to be asking ourselves what is it the community wants from its system. I think the community wants its system to achieve reductions in serious crime in hard-hit neighborhoods. That's why we are accenting that measure. Now, we do know that a significant part of that is contributed to by active probationers, parolees, and so forth. It seems to me that if you ask the average citizen what they want from their system, they will respond that they want the quiet enjoyment of their neighborhoods without crime.

Mr. PAPARROZI: That's a great question. The failures are usually measured by the incidents of new arrests, as well as the technical violators: people who break the terms of probation. What we're seeing is that the technical violating rate goes down after the near-term. Nobody can believe it. The probationers certainly are, first and foremost, in the disbelief category. After an initial shock, in the intermediate term, we're seeing a decline in that rate as well. Initially, you're seeing a spike. It's the same with drug testing. When we get serious about drug testing there's a spike initially. But then it goes down. It is common sense.

 Mr. DiIULIO: You have to recognize that, and this is documented and talked about in this report and the longer report that's forthcoming through the APPA, 16 percent of persons in some jurisdictions who, at the very time they're arrested for a violent crime, are then under probation supervision. If probation does a better job of supervising those offenders, it's going to have an obvious impact.

Even more important than that is the fact that during the first couple of years Boston experience, when they switched from the fortress probation and into this model of probation, we saw a quadrupling of violations. It looked like Walpole Prison in Massachusetts was going to have to double in size in a couple of years.

There is a general deterrent effect that steps in. There's a new sheriff on the block, and his name is probation, and he's serious: he works in partnership with police, and he works in the community. That general deterrent effect has been borne out to the extent that the preliminary data from this hodgepodge of 15, 20, 30 examples permit us to know that this approach has worked. The results have clearly been positive. Whether it can be taken to scale and replicated: that is the question.

Mr. RUSSI: Since I began addressing the probation situation in New York City, the research question is one thing that I've been heavily discussing with my staff. We’ve been considering putting research-based programs in place that we can use to catch what works for us, and get rid of what doesn't work, and continue to improve what works. The resources have been barely there for us to see the individuals in the office.

In order for us to be successful, we had to first show them that we could do it, and then get the support we needed to complete our research. Some of that we have to do internally. We have to take whatever resources we have and prove through data and through good studies, hopefully in combination with academia, that what we do really makes a difference. Then I think we will expect and hopefully be able to get the kind of resources we need for long-term research, to show that this really works, and that things can change.

We have to find our will. We have to change ourselves. We have to make ourselves visible, make people understand, and make believers out of the doubters. We need to do some real research. I think the police department went through some of that when they were starting out. At the COMPSTAT meeting they had to change the way they did the data. They were taking their data and formulizing it in a way to prove that their efforts were working and because of this, eventually the floodgates opened and they got the resources that they required.

QUESTION: I remember, Commissioner Bratton, how unfortunate and frightening life in the City was in the early 90s. Then you came into the City. I miss you. Do you have any plans of going back into public life?

Mr. BRATTON: At some point in my life that will probably occur. Not anytime soon, but I still stay involved through the Manhattan Institute, through the good work that they do, as evidenced by today’s meeting. They were certainly instrumental in publicizing the concepts that eventually helped to turn this city around. This Institute influenced many of Mayor Giuliani’s ideas. This effort is a continuation of that: the idea of "getting the word out.”

QUESTION: I may be complicating your already-complicated job, but once these people get out of prison or off parole, it's very difficult to get jobs. People don't want to hire ex-prisoners, or convicts. They can't get a job, they get back into the crime scene, and you start all over again. I think part of the community effort on the part of the police should be trying to get people to hire these people once they leave the system. In addition to the supervision, rehabilitation, etc., do you have some suggestions and recommendations on how a public/private partnership may be developed to change the way that businesses work? Is there any way to change and to get them to understand that it is worthwhile to take a chance on somebody who has committed some offense, but has been rehabilitated?

Dr. CORBETT: I think if an offender gets through the kind of regime that we're describing, it's going to be a tough test. They're going to have to do a lot. They're going to have to prove themselves in ways they haven't before. If an offender can get through this regime and successfully complete the term of probation, I think we have solid ground to go to an employer and say to him or her: "Let me tell you what they've accomplished, what they've done, how they've been able to turn themselves around, and how they've met a really tough test of behavior responsibility and accountability.”

If the regime we're describing is in place, I think we've got lots of good ammunition to advocate, as you say we should, on behalf of people who have said: "I got the message. I did what you asked me to do. I'm clean and sober. I've been responsible about being in appointed places when I was supposed to be. I've done everything you've asked me to do. Now, in the face of that demonstrated performance, how about advocating for me?” I think we should be prepared to do this.

Mr. PAPAROZZI: A couple of things come to my mind from my personal experiences. In Essex County I used to chair the Social Service Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. We had folks from the local insurance companies and the local department stores on that board and we networked with them. We had targeted job tax credit programs, where an employer would get a tax break for hiring an ex-offender, and the employers that we networked with effectively knew that they had somebody they could call. They knew who this person was, as opposed to someone who was off probation and had a criminal history.

I think those kinds of things can happen on a micro level. On a macro level, associations like the American Probation Parole Association have gotten corporations involved in a big way to help sponsor programs for offenders. So, there is a lot that we can do. We need to do it. We can't wait for the private sector to come out and do it.

Mr. RUSSI: Our experience is that the job opportunities are there. The problem is the individuals who we send have a tremendous amount of problems before they get there. So we have to do our part. For instance, just teaching these individuals how to get to work on time every day, to get up out of bed, get to the job and stay there all day, and show up every day. We need to teach them how to account for the time it takes to take the train, to get up and make sure they're on time every day.

We have somewhere in the neighborhood of a 75 percent failure rate for individuals showing up to assign employment sites. The site was there, the individual was there, ready to accept them and they don't show. That is the kind of work that we have to do. We have to do aggressive work with the population, so that by the time we send them to a job and the employer is ready, they will to be ready too.

The jobs are there. It's the work that has to be done preparing these individuals to be ready to accept the responsibility that is a lot more complicated.

Mr. DiIULIO: I want to thank Commissioner Bratton, Professor Paparozzi and Dr. Corbett very much for being with us, sharing their views and lending their support. Thank you all.


Center for Civic Innovation.



This event marked the release of CCI’s latest Civic Report, 'Broken Windows' Probation: The Next Step in Fighting Crime. This report, authored by Institute Senior Fellow John DiIulio and thirteen longtime practitioners in the probation field, contends that reforming probation can lead to significant reductions in the crime rate. Among the reforms offered are requiring probation officers to supervise their wards frequently in the community rather than once a month in their offices, enforcing conditions to probation (like staying drug free) by immediately sanctioning violations, and building partnerships with community groups.



Henry Olsen, Manhattan Institute

John J. DiIulio, Jr., Manhattan Institute

William Bratton, former New York City Police Commissioner

Mario Paparozzi, American Probation and Parole Association President

Ronald Corbett, Jr., past president of the National Association of Probation Executives




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